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Artificial Sweeteners Make You Hungry, Not Healthy

Jul 18, 2016 02:31 PM EDT
AFL Rd 7 - St Kilda v North Melbourne
Cutting down on sugary foods to lose weight? Foods laced with artificial sweeteners may not be the best substitutes. New research is showing that a diet of sucralose laden food will actually stimulate the appetite - in animals, at least.
(Photo : Michael Dodge / Stringer)

A new study on sucralose adds to the growing body of research that finds unwanted effects from replacing sugar with noncaloric substitutes. In this case, scientists found that a diet laced with artificial sweeteners causes animals to become more intensely ravenous when they return to eating regular food.

Of course, humans can think analytically, which should still make it possible for people to train themselves to avoid fattening foods. But that's not an easy thing for everyone, and the new study suggests that eating sugar-free meals will only create additional obstacles for those trying to lose weight - in essence, you'll find yourself fighting against your own body's intensified cravings, which doesn't bode well.

A joint team of researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre published the study in the journal Cell Metabolism. It describes how the scientists fed fruit flies either a diet of yeast and sucrose, or one with the sugars replaced by the artificial sweetener sucralose.

After several days on that diet, the sucralose-fed flies were given naturally sweetened food. This led them to consume 30% more calories, compared to the flies that didn't feed on sucraclose.

"When we investigated why animals were eating more even though they had enough calories, we found that chronic consumption of this artificial sweetener actually increases the sweet intensity of real nutritive sugar, and this then increases the animal's overall motivation to eat more food," explains lead researcher Greg Neely in a Garvan Institute press release.

The researchers would go on to investigate whether the same effect holds true for mammals, performing the experiment on mice. Indeed, after seven days of eating sucraclose-sweetened food, the mice responded by increasing their consumption of regular food by 50 percent.

Scientific American reports that the study offers evidence that the prolonged consumption of noncaloric sugar substitutes triggers "a starvation state in the brain, causing some organisms to seek energy by eating more food." This contradicts the established view of sucraclose as biologically inert. Whether it is actively harmful is another story - but it might very well harm your dieting willpower.

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